Closer Look: Honey Bee Acres Cozy Living Room

For a large variety of reasons the kitchen sink project has yet to be finished. Let’s just say that there were problems and I needed to step away for a while. That and my newly semi-diagnosed auto-immune disorder. Yeah. It’s been a fun week.

I needed to shift my creative endeavors over to getting the costumes ready for Halloween anyway. And that will need an entire post… or two… of its own.

Buuut I do have something I get to show you now.

taDa!

See, I had to make an order on Walmart anyway and needed the $35 for free shipping and so… Ya know… This happened.

Honey Bee Acres is Walmart’s new line of toys similar to Calico Critters and Li’l Woodzeez. There isn’t a ton of info out there about them yet but it’s clear to all that they’re cute.

And cheap.

All this for $10! Which of course means the quality was bound to be a bit shakey… So how does it hold up?

Stickers. Companies everywhere need to take a leaf from Lego’s book and let the customer apply them. Sure, maybe the kid will do a terrible job…but so did they. At least with my own sticker sheet I have a shot at making it look nice.

The couch and chair were surprisingly hefty. These aren’t made out of the cheap plastic; they aren’t going to break easily. The chair was back heavy though and had a habit of toppling backwards when my hand brushed by.

The cupboard doors on the TV console open and shut. One door was on fairly tightly and one was loose. I’m a bit frustrated by this; the one feels weak and I’m afraid my little one is going to break it off. Then probably try to eat it. Sigh. It’s a cute little table though.

Very durable potted plant and baskets.

The rug is made from stiff felt. I feel like it will last even with kids. The print is cute too.

Throw pillows and …blanket? The yellow one is meant to roll up and put in the basket. It looks like a blanket when rolled up but is shapeless and a bit weird when it isn’t. I do really like the prints on all the fabric but see these pieces, including the rug.

The lamp easily breaks apart into two pieces. It was clearly designed this way and I’m hoping some stronger glue will help keep it in place. Where the molded plastic seams come together there are bumps I’ll want to sand down.

The curtains are interesting. Curtains come with all the house sets for Honey Bee Acre’s, but the rods for them appear to be in the house. This set comes with six of them. The prints don’t match up where they were cut, which kind of drives me nuts, but I don’t expect most children will mind.

My favorite pieces, and what I plan to keep for myself. And paint. Eventually. Though some of it, such as the rug, will probably end up with little K for her doll house.

Frank

While I wait for the paint to dry on other projects, I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about Frank.

I take real good care of my fingernails.

I met and painted Frank in 2017 at a small, local anime convention. Dressed from head to toe in what was my most time-consuming costume to date, I spent two hours (I think. Maybe more?) learning to paint miniatures. It was just supposed to be an hour-long mini class with a handful of people but I was bored with the convention at large so kept going.

Photo credit to this cool guy who stopped me in the hall for a free mini-photoshoot.

Sitting there for so long, I was told that I looked like the Swamp Thing from the back. Not exactly whay I was going for but at least the cosplay was appreciated.

Anyway. I haven’t painted a table-top miniature since. I think I’d enjoy the challenge but table top games have yet to fully catch my interest and I have a million other project ideas anyway.

I’m also not really into the post-apocalyptic vibe. Steampunk, on the other hand….

Still, I loved my little gas-masked miniature. I named him Frank because, I don’t know, that’s just what his name was, you know?

He has lived on my little toy shelf for the past many years, surrounded by a mix of Treasure Trolls and other small toys from my childhood.

Project: The Kitchen Sink … Part 2?

Last time on Lioriel’s Project Blog: Lioriel attempts to create a miniature sink faucet but creates a monster instead. Moving onto the counter, cupboards, and sink itself… a second attempt at a faucet lies just around the corner.

I won’t apologize for my weirdness.

Picking up where we left off

I took a pair of wire clippers to the ugly faucet. Off came the hideous base. Off came the other end. The faucet resumed it’s role as a curved wire, ready to begin again.

I found a cone-shaped cap to… something. I have no idea what. My studio is an absolute mess so it really could be from anything. Clipping off the tip, I slipped the cone over the short end.

While the paint on the faucet dried I resumed work on the countertop. Careful observers of an earlier post may have noticed a faux-marble countertop in the works. Honestly, painting this pattern was the easy part.

See, my 9-year-old rock-enthusiast rightfully pointed out that my marble slab was too rough. I knew it, but hadn’t yet devised a plan to fix it. My enamel paints are acrylic enamel. I’ve yet to use oil-based enamel but from what I’ve read that’s what I really should be using if I want a smooth finish.

But I did have resin.

I tried our resin about a year and a half ago. Without going into detail I’ll sum up my efforts with this: I’m really good at mixing up sticky resin.

I did, however, also buy a small bottle of UV resin. That I was too afraid to use.

Until now.

I taped off the counter with washi tape (baby painter’s tape!) and got to work.

It sort of went okay. But it also was bumpy.

So I tried adding another layer.

It still had flaws.

I tried sanding out the flaws. I tried buffing it with plastic polish. I tried another layer of resin. I tried sanding it again.

So yeah, I made it worse.

At least the faucet was looking good.

I searched through my jewlery findings and decided to make use of a toggle clasp. This short equation will explain the basics of the process:

Does this count as algebra?

Using some wire and glue, I attached the handle to the faucet. I also wrapped some thin wire around my jewlery pliers and painted it for the base.

Not bad.

It needs some touching up, but I’ll get to that before gluing it down onto the countertop.

Assuming the countertop ever gets finished.

To be continued…

Closer Look: Li’l Woodzeez Bakery and Country Kitchen

Back when I ordered the Kitchenette and Housekeeping set I had also purchased two other items.

Today they arrived.

I’ve been excited about these for a while. As you may know, I love small things. But I especially love small food and kitchen items.

Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. My 9-year-old son looks at me weird when I talk about sets having a “cute fridge” and whatnot. What’s cute about a fridge?

I don’t know. It’s tiny and as a female I’m genetically predisposed to liking things smaller than they’re supposed to be. Let’s just go with that.

What I’ve kept from the three sets. … Pay no attention to the partially disassembled pieces in the corner.

I’ve kept most of the three sets and listed a handful of items I didn’t personally want on Mercari.

Hoping some cute kid out there will enjoy these more than I would.
Clip. Clip. Clip.

Getting into the Bakery set took some effort; the downside of the set being beautifully displayed in the store. Everything was taped or tied down. Lots of plastic. Recyclable plastic, though… so I guess it could be worse.

The stone oven has a door that opens
Lots of items permanently attached to the wall

Emptied out, the set is still adorable. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to buy it. Li’l Woodzeez may be a “budget” right compared to Calico Critters but their items have so many details. … I can’t wait to paint them.

One of my very favorite parts of this set are the gingerbread cookie pieces. The dough gingerbread man pops in and out of the rest of the dough. The baked cookie can go in and out of the… pan? Cookie cutter? There’s even a little spot for the rolling pin to rest on the dough.

Can we take a minute to appreciate that they colored every cupcake differently?

The cupcake stand can be disassembled, which will make it easier to paint when the time comes.

The fridge in the Country Kitchen set is interesting. The bottom section is stuck in place and sort of rocks back and forth. The removable fridge shelf has a flower pattern molded into it. I’m not sure why.. maybe they has this mold for another item and decided to re-use it? Either way, I’m not complaining.

I do feel like the hinge on the fridge may be a bit weak. I don’t think it would be a problem for an older child but I won’t be letting either my four or two-year-old near it any time soon.

A quick look at the items I decided not to keep:

I’m just not a fan of the Woodzeez short chairs.
The pots have thinner handles. Wouldn’t want them to break off after doing all the work to paint.

The mixing bowls simply aren’t particularly interesting items.
The plates and cups have hearts molded onto them. Not my thing. I also find the dish drying rack to be a little odd.

I’d rather sew my own aprons and make my own broom.

I think most of these items are still great for play. They’re just not for me.

Investigative Surgery

That title may be a smidge misleading, considering what lead me to this in the first place was uh… cannibalisation?

That said. I present to you the Li’l Woodzeez Kitchenette and Housekeeping set:

$9.99 of plastic goodness

I had a strong need for a faucet and a $20 Target gift card burning a hole in my pocket. The result was unavoidable.

My local Target didn’t have the pieces I needed wanted so I had to place the order online. Apparently this item is fairly popular as it ran out of stock by the time I got my giftcard info into the app and working correctly (that’s another story). By the next day I was able to make my purchase though and today the first of two packages arrived at my doorstep courtesy of my friendly mailman.

In my excitement, I forgot to take my own photo before the surgery began. Stock photo time!

The big, oft-repeated question I’ve seen about this set is if the cupboard doors are supposed to open. The official answer, I already knew, is that they are not. I’m here to show you why.

At first glance it appears that maybe you could modify the piece so it opens. But the plastic “hinges” of sorts are delicate and during the removal of one so found a small piece already cracked off.

If someone really wanted to put in the work I’m sure they could add their own hinges or somehow modify the plastic ones here. You’d also need to build shelves on the inside. Unless, you know, you like big gaping holes.

All in all, the piece disassembled nicely, which will make it easier to paint later on.

But now on to what I really cared about.

Lovely

So, the good news first:

If you’re worried about your kid somehow breaking this apart on their own and choking on pieces: you don’t have much to worry about.

I first tried rubbing alcohol to to loosen the glue. No luck.

I then brought out the dreaded acetone. Using a toothpick I dotted the acetone around the underside of the counter and tried to pry it off.

Then tried again.

Then tried again.

Switching tactics, I focused on removing the water pump from the top side. This part came with just a bit of acetone, though it left the base behind.

I suppose I can work with this

But I wasn’t about to give up yet. It took a few more times around with more acetone and a small, flathead screwdriver but so eventually pried the countertop off.

Ta-da!

I’m sure with more effort I could get the sink and pump base out but eh. I’m done. For now.

The base of the counter is made of fairly strong plastic. I’m not entirely sure how I will use it yet but I’ve put it away in my stockpile of miniatures for now.

As for the pump…

I’m afraid it’s a little too old fashioned for the direction I ended up taking the Calico Critters counter.

Whatever I end up using it for though, I’ll be sure to sand the seams down. There’s a lot of cute detail in this piece and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

Project: Faucet Fail

The recent lot I purchased of TLC Calico Critters furniture included not one, but two kitchen sinks.

Aside from both pieces missing a drawer, the obvious problem would be the lack of faucet on the one.

I’ve considered several different approaches to solving this:

1. Cast the other faucet in silicone. Fill mold with resin. Pray that my inability to mix non-tacky resin has disappeared in the past year or so.

2. Make a faucet from clay, possibly trying the silicone & resin mold thing out with it.

3. Make a faucet out of wire.

4. Hope no one notices.

I started by rifling through my box of wires and string. I found a whole lot of beading wire and string but nothing remotely thick enough to make into my faucet.

Still don’t have enough craft supplies. Tsk.

Which lead me to scavenging through my husband’s tool chest to see if I had anything I could s̶t̶e̶a̶l borrow.

He won’t miss an inch, right?

Bingo.

Next, I raided my childhood bead box and found several beads the perfect size and shape.

See, I told you that h̶o̶a̶r̶d̶i̶n̶g saving these beads for the past 25 years would come in handy.

Beading wire, super glue, and several laters of enamel paint later and my faucet begins to take form.

While waiting for things to dry, I also began the first layers of paint on the kitchen counter & sink. There’s plenty of work to do here still. But I did stick my faucet on (gum erasers have so so so many uses) to take a look at how it was turning out.

Eh.

Problem is, the more I looked the faucet, the more I kind of hate it. The painted-over wires & super glue look like a royal mess… Among other things.

I think I’m going to need some more thick wire.

I’ve learned over the years to trust my gut when I hate my artwork and to just throw it out and start over.

I hate doing it, with all the time and effort lost.

But I think it must be done.

I’ll chalk it up as a learning experience and give the project another go as soon as I can go out and buy my own wire.

I Bought the Cupcakes

In a moment of weakness I went ahead and bought a large lot of cupcake dolls off Mercari.

I blame my ADD for my impulsiveness, but blame this blog for my personal justification in purchasing them.

Hello, my pretties

After their arrival, I got to work cleaning them up.

Some are severely damaged; I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them yet beyond listing them for parts.

Some just needed some soap and water or a wire brush ran through their hair.

… seriously, what did these toys companies have against including a brush that doesn’t make doll hair worse?

A few things I’ve already listed for resale. I was never interested in keeping the entire lot. Mostly I just wanted to find my own old doll and have a chance to take photos.

And smell them. I has forgotten how they smelled! But I was instantly taken back.

Miss Cherry Chip here looks like she’s in pretty good shape.
I’m 99% That this yellow-hat young lady here is the same type I had as a child.

I’m a bit torn on whether or not to keep the table for myself. It’s missing the center post; something I’m sure I could find a DIY solution for. But with or without the center post the piece is really cute.

Project: Calico Critters Kitchen Hutch Repaint – Part 2

We continue from where I forced myself to walk away from my desk and go to sleep for the night after stripping the paint off this.

The cabinet was left on a sorry state that I had little choice but to paint over. Out came the enamel paint, gloves, brushes, and sponges.

A definite work in progress

I chose the go with the previous owner’s idea to paint the cabinet dark blue. But I couldn’t just paint it a solid blue. Maybe it’s my painting background and love for shading. Maybe I’ve just made too many cosplay props in the last year. Whatever the reason, I wanted to paint both the light and the shadows.

A solid piece of plastic, all one color, looks unnatural. Even with our real world lighting to naturally shade our miniatures they rarely seem to look quite right.

And so I added some happy little shadows.

I’m quite happy with the effect.

What I wasn’t happy with, however, was the back of the cupboard. There may have been some unsightly scratches that might possibly have been caused by a stupid attempt to use my dremmel paper disk sander. Possibly.

Some years ago I designed a wallpaper pattern that mimicked the kitchen wallpaper styles of the 1940s. I threw it on spoonflower with plans to use it myself one day as a wallpaper for my American Girl Dolls.

A pattern far too small for real people.

… I still haven’t gotten around to that.

But I did make a larger print and alternate colors and the pattern has does reasonably well on the website. If only I could commit myself to making more designs in the series.

I’ve also now made a much smaller print. It isn’t up on spoonflower yet but it absolutely has been printed on my home printer.

Because my Calico Critters kitchen hutch needs help.

A few layers of acrylic sealer later and the printed paper was ready to glue down.

To be honest, I had wanted to do this anyway. My the scratches just sealed the deal.

My poor mother will attest that I was never one to squeal with delight on Christmas day. I’m a quiet sort of person. But the moment the first paper was glued into place?

Beautiful

As the topcoat of clear enamel dried, I kept myself busy with a variety of smaller projects.

I may have a thing for cherry decor

Overall, I’m really happy with how this turned out. It felt great to be working on a personal art project again and I can’t wait to dive into the next one.

Thanks for reading!

As much as I adore the piece, I am hoping to sell. Something has to pay for my expensive hobbies! But I know I can’t let it go if it isn’t the right price because I love it that much.

Sometimes you build something simple

I finally purchased myself one of these last night. Perhaps now, with a new storage system on my side, I’ll finally be able to get organized.

Hah.

Little N saw the box and decided it must somehow be used to make a race track. Cars, afterall, are his first love.

In an effort to continue on with another project in peace, I let the kid take the box to do whatever he wanted. Even if I needed to take the organizer back to the store I couldn’t at this point. … I already have paint on it.

Next thing I knew I had a preschooler surrounded by torn scraps of cardboard. “Mommy, maybe you can use glue.”

Intead, I threw together this.

Including a start gate was vital; or so I was told.

In case anyone was wondering, N’s car won the race.

I enjoy my detailed, artist projects. Throwing myself into creating something and watching the vision come to life can be amazing.

But I also enjoy just watching my kid enjoy a five minutes craft. It’s okay to like both.